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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations latest figures, the amount of motorcyclists involved in motor vehicle accidents has risen…again. With this year’s increase of such unfortunate accidents, it has become as important as ever to be mindful of the "rules of the road".

This past year, 60% of motorcycle accidents occurred during the daytime. Many of these accidents occur in "passing" situations whereby a number of factors (quicker acceleration of motorcycles vs. cars, the smaller size of a motorcycle) can put cyclists at a disadvantage in terms of safety.

When passing a vehicle it’s always important to do so on the left if possible. It’s also good to make sure that the passed vehicle is not accelerating. If the vehicle you are looking to pass is accelerating it makes perceptions much more difficult in calculating how far ahead the next vehicle will be so as to not crash into them.

New York’s Traffic Statutes dictate, when passing on a two-lane road to allow for 200 feet of space between you and the oncoming car. While passing on the right is not advised if other vehicles are passing you on the right you have to switch the right-most lane pursuant to New York Traffic Statute 1120(b).

Illinois takes it a step further in allowing passing on the right when you are on a two-lane road. It also utilizes the 200 feet rule. However, their rules on passing on a two-lane two-way road are very distinct:

Passing on a two-lane, two-way roadway is not allowed:

  • in an area marked for no passing by a solid yellow line on your side of the center of the roadway or a DO NOT PASS or NO PASSING ZONE sign.
  • on a hill or curve where it is not possible to see oncoming vehicles.
  • within 100 feet of an intersection or railroad crossing.
  • when the view is within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct or tunnel.
  • when a vehicle has stopped at a crosswalk or intersection to allow a pedestrian to cross.
  • in a construction zone. All constructions zones on Illinois highways are no passing zones.
  • in any school zone. Under Illinois law, all school zones are no passing zones.
  • when a school bus has stopped to load or discharge passengers.

In general, the best way to remember the rules about passing are probably best defined as, "STAY LEFT". Unless it is your "only" option passing on the right is not advised. Drivers tend to only look at their passenger side mirrors when they are changing lanes. The relatively small size of a motorcycle can be missed in some mirrors and lead to catastrophic consequences.

So remember to obey the "rules of the road" and be mindful of cyclists!

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